Well where do I start? What a day that was. I started the day 4 shots back in a tie for 16th and when standing on the range warming up next to Ben Bloomfield, I commented that it wasn't windy enough......I thought we needed some wind to hopefully hold the leaders and allow someone to go low and post a score!! By the time I teed off it had started to get up a little bit and by the time I was through 2 holes I knew the wind was coming, you beauty!!
I started very well not really missing a shot in the first 8 holes and having good chances for birdie on all 8 holes with the longest put being from about 35 feet on the 7th. I had putted well but had only made 3 of my chances as I headed to the par five ninth hole. It was playing back into the wind and after a solid tee shot my 2nd shot ended up just into the left rough. From there I had 114m to the hole. I hit my shot well but got a "flyer" and the ball went over the green. From there I chipped in, hitting a perfect flop shot that rolled into the cup at dead speed.
So turning in 4 under I knew I was in the mix and it was just going to require a good back nine. It started well hitting it to 5 foot on the 10th but missed the chance. A par at 11 was followed by a sublime 8 iron into the postage stamp par 3 12th. I made the 4footer to move to 10 under for the tournament. Two tough pars followed that and I stood on the 15th still at -10.The 15th was a driveable par 4 and I managed to knock it on the green and had a 10 footer for eagle. As soon as I hit it I knew it was in and I also knew that I was now well and truly in the contest!!
So with 3 to go I was faced with the tough par 3 16 back into the wind with trouble everywhere, particularly the water hazard left. After a little time I decided on 4 iron from 157m, hoping to take the water out of play and if the wind didn't hit it, accept that I could get it up and down from the back bunker. I struck it perfectly and even my fellow competitor and good mate Ryan Haller from the next fairway yelled out "oh be good!!" When it landed next to the flag Ryan followed up with a big "cmon!!" and at that point I was officially nervous, well at least for that instant. All the talk and training over the years and also just going on my gut feeling out there helped me to be able to calm the nerves. From a combination of chatting to the guys I was playing with about anything other than golf, to chatting to random spectators, to praying or to singing a song off a new cd I had bought from Riverview church in Perth the previous week, I found a way to stay relaxed. In fact later that night when talking to Ryan he said to me he couldn't believe how relaxed I looked..."it was unbelievable under the pressure I was under" according to Ryan.
I think the big factor helping me out was that I just had this real feeling that everything was going to be fine and that I was going to win. I thought it and I thought about it as I played those closing holes and I didn't try to stop it either as many of the text books might tell you to do. I just believed it was my day....
So back to the golf, I had just hit a great shot into 16 and hit a fantastic putt only to see it somehow slide by over the lip. I honestly thought I had made it! So off to 17 a par 5 reachable downwind. It was a tee shot I didn't enjoy but in saying that I had managed to hit great tee shots down this hole all week. I hit another good one without it being perfect, but it would do, stopping just in the right rough. After the calculations I decided it was time for a release fade 5 iron - for any one wanting to learn that shot, Indooroopilly Golf Club have some outstanding coaches who will teach it to you!! I hit it perfectly and my ball came to rest about 16 foot from the hole, an eagle chance. I was last to putt and had just watched and eagle roll in from one of the guys in my group, good vibes!! I hit the putt exactly how I wanted and as if on rails it just rolled perfectly and straight in!!! Eagle number 2 in a 3 hole period, never have I done that before.
The walk up to the 18th tee saw a few deep breaths, a drink of water and certainly the realisation that I was now probably leading by a bit and it was kind of mine to lose. Great I thought, that is exactly where I wanted to be, out in front on Sunday afternoon!! I pealed off another great drive to complete the box set of great drives for the day.My putting and iron play were exceptional all day but my driving of the ball had been great, setting me up in the first place, not being in any trouble once!! the second shot presented a problem, go for it with 3 wood and get it down past the cross bunkers or lay it up and have maybe a short to mid iron in. I opted for the lay up based on the fact that the longer shot would have been into the narrowest part of the fairway, one lined with water all down the right and bunkers and rubbish all down the left. I hit the 2nd perfect and then hit a great third shot exactly at my target. I watched as the ball sailed on the green and looked like it was going to stay on the correct level as the pin. Unfortunately it trickled long leaving me a nasty chip shot downhill and straight back at the water. I hit the chip well but it just landed maybe a couple of inches shot and got stuck in the fringe. So here I was, staring at a putt for 61, totally amazing!! I missed it and tapped in for the bogie, my first dropped shot of the day. Still I was very happy and thought I was still a chance.
The waiting game now began, 5 groups, 15 players and I started just ticking them off my list as they came through 18. O'Malley and Barnes came and went, then Stolz which eventually only left James McClean, who was 1 behind with 2 to play. Figuring he would at least birdie 17 I thought it was time to hit some balls and warm up for the playoff, if it was going to be needed. So as I hit balls to just warm up again James was in view on 17 and I watched his eagle putt slip by but tap in for birdie. Finally he was on the last and needing a par to tie. I packed my gear up and headed back in to watch the events unfold on the 18th. When I got back to the clubhouse James had a wedge into the green from an opposite fairway. He just pulled it left a little bit and his ball ended up in the same valley I was in an hr earlier where I had failed to get the ball up and down from. I breathed a little easier knowing how tough it was from there for him. He hit it on but a fair distance away and down a tier. His putt back looked good for speed but was just a little offline to the left and all of a sudden I was the Champion!! All the boys around me congratulating me and officials and spectators too! What a buzz that was.
Following and emotional call to Rach, mum and dad and another good friend, I went to presentations, accepted the trophy and cheque and made a fairly lengthy speech. It was an amazing feeling to have hung on and win, to play the way I did, to beat the calibre of players I beat. Someone special to me told me this earlier in the week "Sometimes God takes you right to the edge of your belief just to see if you still have faith" I reckon I was close to that, but I did have faith and I believed I was on a journey and that this was where he wanted me to be!!
New experiences have since followed doing talk back radio interviews and newspaper and tv interviews since. It is very exciting and certainly good fun. Importantly the win gives me improved status and I have full exemption on the Australasian tour and also should gain starts in all of the One Asia Tour next year. I am still heading to Japan next week for q school and hope to still regain my card there to give me more playing options next year. I have added some photos and links regarding the day on Sunday below but check out the In the News category as there will be more stuff in there too.
I will next be blogging from Nishiwaki in Japan for stage 3 of Japanese Q School, next week!!!